*Gasp!* It’s both of you!

Peering over the parapet of retirement for this. Mid-80s Police Academy knock off Moving Violations proved to be a regular phonebook of siblings-of-stars and slasher movie also-rans…

Most evident to me was the appearance of not one, but two alumni of The Burning, Brian Backer and Ned Eisenberg. The former is a luckless purveyor of a mobile puppet show, the latter is introduced by asking Jennifer Tilly (!) if she saw any of the first five Friday the 13th movies and later dons a hockey mask.

brian backer ned eisenberg moving violations 1985

Elsewhere, Willard Pugh from The Hills Have Eyes Part II appears, all of them under Stacy Keach’s little brother and Bill Murray’s little brother in the lead roles.

See you in a few weeks when I watch the slasher film my friend Dave was in.

That’s all folks!

 

The well is officially dry. I’ve reviewed every slasher film, documentary, and TV series I’ve ever seen, all 778 titles (plus 3 random other reviews).

thatsallfolks

So in terms of my updates every five days, we’ve reached the end of the line, although I’ll stick up reviews of anything relevant I see. A friend of mine is actually in a new film due out in March.

What’s changed? Time, I guess. A few years ago I decided to stop seeking out the lowest end, shot-on-a-phone, potato-quality films because they just weren’t ever enjoyable, despite the best intentions of those who made them.

I’ve ranked, rated, listed, and loved every aspect of the genre I can think to rank, rate, list and love, from final girl countdowns, Stock Background Characters 101, VIP’s of Slasherdom, and that controversial Top 100 – if I knew where to go next with it, believe me I would, but repeating myself ad nauseum has a shelf life.

All that’s left to say until such a time that an awesome new film comes along, is thanks for a great 12 years, everybody who’s commented, argued with me over a rating, suggested new films to watch, and that person who called me an ‘ignorant rookie’ who ‘didn’t know what they were talking about’ that time.

Special shout-outs to Grace, Jake, Justin, Kaijinu, Lord Crayak, Meat-free Myers, Paul, Phil M, Ross H, Ross T, SlasherTrash, Stacie Ponder, and Moto – who has been dragged around more secondhand video stores than anybody could take.

Love you all.

Hud x

Gianna and the Giallo

deep red 1975

DEEP RED

3.5 Stars  1975/18/126m

“You will never forget it.”

Original title: Profondo Rosso

Director/Writer: Dario Argento / Writer: Bernardino Zapponi / Cast: David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi, Gabriele Lavia, Macha Maril, Eros Pagni, Giuliana Calandra, Clara Calamai.

Body Count: 6

Laughter Lines: “It’s always a maniac and they never catch them!”


I saw Deep Red for the first time about eight years ago but curiously made no notes whatsoever and couldn’t remember a whole lot beyond the twist with the ‘painting’, the mechanical doll, and not knowing if Gianna died or not. It’s likely I watched a cropped down version, because the one I just rented seemed a whole lot longer and had several cut-ins which were never dubbed into English (despite the actors’ lips obviously speaking in it).

Anyway, serving as the template for Dario Argento’s move from whodunits into his more slasher movie-esque era, the accepted giallo ingredients are all present and accounted for: An outsider, a black-gloved mystery killer, slow moving scenes that fragment the locus so we don’t know where the fiend might leap from any second, psychics, a score like someone had a seizure at the piano… It’s all here! Yay!

deep red 1975

In this case, David Hemmings is Marcus Daly, a jazz pianist/lecturer living in Italy (whether or not it’s Turin where the film was shot I don’t know – they mentioned Rome?) who, one night, witnesses the brutal murder of his neighbour, Lithuanian medium Helga Ulmann who, earlier, had ‘tapped in’ to the thoughts of a vengeful killer during a lecture on telepathy, saying she knew who it was and that she would write out her observations and hand them over to the police.

deep red 1975

Marc finds himself teamed up with Lois Laney reporter Gianna (longterm Argento fixture Nicolodi) to try and crack the case ahead of the seemingly clueless cops – who tell the press their eyewitness can ID the killer, which goes out on the evening news. There’s a tinge of romance between the carefree Gianna and uptight Marc and the re-added scenes largely cover their partnership, involving a recurring gag with a crapped out Fiat 500. After an hour, the killer returns to eliminate a writer who knows about a past crime at a house we briefly saw during the credits as someone was being stabbed to death before the weapon fell at the feet of a child, while a kid’s ‘la la la’ ditty plays. This tune comes up several times and, while not as much of a brain intrusion as Baby Shark, anything by Ed Sheeran, or the Halloween III Silver Shamrock commercial, it does get a little irritating.

With the killer seemingly one step ahead, Marc finds the creepy old mansion and uncovers some more clues. This scene is strangely long – really long – and it reminded me how impatient modern audiences have become. A part of it involves him chipping away at plaster to view a mural beneath it. In a new flick, this would be montaged down with cuts, but in Deep Red we witness the whole process, including him going off to find a piece of glass to hasten his pace.

deep red 1975

In that sense, Deep Red, if re-edited, would probably clock in around 85 minutes there’s so much …waiting going on. But in other scenes it makes sense: The stalking of the interim victims – the writer and a professor – is expertly strung out to tease the audience. We know something bad is about to drop, but from where, and how badly? The mechanical doll shock is still absurdly creepy and weirdly irrelevant, yet remains the most memorable set piece.

Eventually, Marc figures out what he saw way back at the start with ‘the painting’ and the killer is revealed. “It was such a long time ago!” they caw for the flashback/exposition, before a very rapid fight ensues. The twist is neat though, can’t say otherwise and, while I’d probably not choose to donate two hours of my time to sitting through this for, hmm, another couple of decades, it shows that Argento was, even then, streets ahead of his contemporaries.

deep red 1975 daria nicolodi

Blurbs-of-interest: Argento’s other slasher pics include TenebraeOperaPhenomena, Trauma, and Sleepless; Nicolodi was in Tenebrae, Phenomena, and Opera; Gabriele Lavia was in Sleepless.

Into the dark / Out of the closet

into the dark midnight kiss 2019

INTO THE DARK: MIDNIGHT KISS

2.5 Stars  2019/89m

“They came to slay.”

Director: Carter Smith / Writer: Erlingur Thoroddsen / Cast: Augustus Prew, Scott Evans, Ayden Mayeri, Lukas Gage, Chester Lockhart, Adam Faison.

Body Count: 4


Into the Dark is a Hulu-produced horror anthology show with different feature-length scary tales each episode. This second stab at a slasher yarn (the first being School Spirit) opted to side-step from the usual bouncy teens set into the lives of a group of gay friends who take the chance to stay in their rich friend’s pad in Palm Springs for New Year’s Eve 2019-2020.

Unfortunately for them, a fetish-masked mystery loon has decided to send them each cryptic notes before slashing and choking them to death, starting with the obligatory shower kill. But wait, the character conventions have been flipped, so we’re in for some equal opportunity objectification and are provided with a hot muscular guy for a change.

Doubtlessly, narrow-minded types threw their remotes in disgust at the ensuing scenes of men kissing other men (though betcha bottom dollar they wouldn’t have objected to excess girl-on-girl) as the guys and their token straight female friend resurrect a NYE game known as Midnight Kiss, where they each must find a stranger to share a consensual tongue-war with, and then all other relationship restrictions are binned for the night.

into the dark midnight kiss 2019

Struggling artist Cameron is slightly out of sorts due to his controlling ex Joel’s over-celebration of his engagement to twinky Logan, who is largely inexperienced. Flamboyant Insta-gay Zachary wants to check out what he thinks will be a better party elsewhere, and Hannah is slowly getting peeved that she is the perpetual hanger-on with few options to pick up guys if they only ever go to gay venues.

Midnight comes and goes and the group go back to the fancy house to wind down, where the killer reappears and chases Cameron around for a while, until the inevitable unmasking, which marks the tripping point for Midnight Kiss, as the motive comes down to little more than the killer’s ego being bruised because one of the group kissed him seven years earlier and, well, that was it.

midnight kiss 2019

While production assets are fine, the episode just suffers from being flaccid, thrill-wise: Hot nude guys can only entertain for so long, and with few murders occurring (though the Sorority Row revisited one is neat), we’re left with a bit too much dialogue and too little action, plus a revelation that ultimately leads nowhere and is unresolved by the time the credits roll. Hellbent did it better.

Don’t You (Forget About Her)

into the dark school spirit 2019INTO THE DARK: SCHOOL SPIRIT

4 Stars  2019/84m

“Kiss goodbye to your class.”

Director/Writer: Mike Gan / Writers: Patrick Casey, Josh Miller / Cast: Annie Q, Corey Fogelmanis, Jessi Case, Julian Works, Jordan Austin Smith, Philip Labes, Hugo Armstrong.

Body Count: 11


Hulu’s horror anthology series gave us this genial little meta teen slasher pic, that pits a group of high schoolers enduring Saturday detention against a sword toting loon dressed as their school mascot.

When Helbrook High’s senior class president and all-round overachiever Erica Yang shows up for detention one week into the school year, everyone is shocked. Everyone who sees her that is, which is a group made up of substance abusers Russell, Lizzie, and Victor, shy try-hard Brett, and seconds-from-boiling-over teacher Mr Armstrong, who tells Erica he’d have seen her expelled if it were up to him. But what did she do? She ain’t about to share.

into the dark school spirit 2019

The pre-credits scene already showed us a couple of no-good-niks done away with when they snuck in the previous week to set up a digital camera in the girls’ locker room showers, and they become the two most recent additions to a growing list of missing kids from Helbrook. Stories float around of a spectral presence, a teacher who died in a prank gone wrong who eliminates all the bad kids. Weird clangs from the vents are attributed to her vengeful ghost.

School Spirit may owe a large debt to The Breakfast Club (are all-day Saturday detentions actually a thing??) by way of a grab-bag of other educational establishment slash ‘em ups, but in 2019 it’s distinguished by nicely written characters who, for a bunch of ‘bad kids’, aren’t just 1D targets for the sharp end of the killer’s weaponry: We learn about their backgrounds to a degree and even begin to care a little about their fate, something that was absent from 90% of teen horror since 2001.

into the dark school spirit 2019

Gruesome demises included a paper guillotine returned to its decapitating origins, axe to the face, screwdriver to the eye, and a cool be-feeting gag for a horny jock. There are also a couple of halfway decent chases down the empty school corridors and a hidden ‘terrible place’ a couple of the luckless detainees discover.

This may also mark the first time we’ve had an Asian final girl in an American production, which, although in the grand scheme of things is a small change, does make a difference, even if it’s to play up to stereotypes of academic excellence. This actually sets up the cheery final twist, that dares toy with the conventions of the final girl at large, but was so wacky and demented I couldn’t help but laugh my ass off.

Four stars is very possibly way too generous, but I was elated watching School Spirit: Back to basics dead-teenager goodness.

into the dark school spirit 2019

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